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Have you ever been driving and noticed a full moon in the rearview mirror and thought to yourself, “I didn’t know the full moon was today?” Yeah, us too. 

Every 28 days we are blessed with an amazing site on Earth where everyone will be able to enjoy the same sight. It’s a full moon and it’s amazing. 

After reading this, you will be ready to capture better photos of the full moon wherever you are. If you happen to be in Hawaii, we have some extra tips for you to get the best photo so you can share it with all your friends and family back home, who are also enjoying the same full moon you are.

Read on, and learn from the pros at Oahu Photo Tours. We have been taking Full Moon Tours for over 10 years and this is some of what we have learned.


Get ready for the next full moon?

Today we have all the tools to answer every question imaginable. That also includes the times of the moon’s rise. With online tools such as Time and Date, you can be well aware as to when the next full moon, new moon and any other phase of the moon will be. Just select the month and find the date. The coolest part about this website is they tell you about “Special Moon Events” during the year. Just scroll down to the bottom and you will find this info. You can also use some pretty cool apps to help you find out this info. We recommend PhotoPills for anyone looking to get all the info you need.

Tip: This next Full Moon is called the Beaver Moon. Beavers use the light of the full moon to work hard for the coming winter. Read More

When to see a full moon? Full Moon Date and Time Hawaii 2020

Most people think the full moon is for one night only but we all know that the moon looks full for a few days. The day before, the day of, and the day after the full moon will be somewhat difficult to really determine what day was the real full moon. The day before might be 98.9% full while the day might is 99.6% full and the day after is 99.1% full. So when do you go out?

In our experience, the day before the full moon is the best for taking photos in Hawaii. This might be different in your area but here in Hawaii, the moon will rise just before sunset, giving you the ability to capture the full moon with ambient light on the landscape. This will produce a much better photo overall. The day after will be too dark for anything other than the moon itself or some long exposers. The day of works great too but we think the day before is the best. In the photo here, you can see how everything is well lit up, so you can enjoy the entire photo.

Tip: Look at the rise time of the moon. If the moon is coming up about 30 min before sunset, that is your best lighting for photos.


Where to go for full moon photos?Hawaii Full Moon - Oahu Photography Tours

The first thing to know is the moon will follow a similar path to the sun. Over the years we have encountered people that do not realize this and ask if we will go to a West or North location for the moon rise. We always love a good laugh …

If you happen to be in a big city, look for a location that allows you to have something in the foreground but not too close such as a building, trees, or a statue. Find a park with something in the background. This can give you a pretty cool effect, making the moon look closer than it really is. It’s all about perspective. If you happen to be in Hawaii, we recommend heading out to an East facing beach that might have an island off in the distance, giving you the opportunity to have a good perspective of depth. When you find your spot using the app PhotoPills, or Google Earth, walk around and see how you can make good use of the area. Our favorite location for the full moon rise is Makapu’u. There is a beautiful beach, a lighthouse, and a cliff that can be used to create an amazing photo.

Tip: In the summer months, the full moon rises of Diamond head when standing on Waikiki beach.


Equipment for full moon photosOahu Photo Tours

Most blogs will only touch on the expensive equipment needed for the best full moon photos. We believe you can use whatever you want as long as you are prepared. The most effective tool for top-notch moon photos is a tripod. While this is not 100% needed, it helps a lot. For example, you can use your photo to take photos on the night before because the amount of light will help the camera focus and your photo will turn out pretty good. Underexpose a little and you will be happily surprised. 

For those of you bringing out the big guns, we highly recommend a tripod that is sturdy. You are taking photos of an object 90,000,000 miles away and the slightest movement can blur your image. We also recommend to all of our guests that they have a zoom lens (at least 200mm) and a wide lens (16mm or similar). This gives you the opportunity to switch things up. A cable release is not needed but it can help. If you do not have one, you can always use a 2-second timer.

That’s really about it. You can always be more or less but as long as you have a tripod for your big camera, you’ll be fine.

Tip: Bring a bean bag or something like it to keep your camera steady if you do not have a tripod. Read More

Settings for full moon photos

Your phone is pretty easy, just tap the screen and bring the light down a little and you’ll get a great photo. If you happen to have a tripod and a newer camera, you can take long exposers of the night sky that come out pretty dang good for a phone.

For more professional cameras, you will want to make sure the settings are correct. This will also be subjected to the type of lens you have. Ideally, you want to have a lens that can bring a lot of light in, also known as a fast lens. That is a lens with a low numbered aperture. It helps tremendously with low light photography. If you are going to be using a tripod, make sure you turn off the stabilizer on your camera. This will eliminate camera vibration. When using a wide-angle lens, you will be going for more of a landscape photo in which the moon will appear small and bright like a flashlight. We recommend using a low ISO (50-200) to reduce any grain and give better overall quality. Use an aperture of ƒ8 for a good focus on the entire scene. The shutter speed can vary depending on your surroundings. If you have some cars or water in the shot, try a longer shutter to get a feeling of movement in the photo. You might have to use an ND filter to get a long enough shutter speed to achieve this.


Capture the craters of the moon?

Hawaii Full Moon

Not surprisingly, this is the most asked question on our tours. Everyone wants to get the craters of the moon and the landscape properly exposed. This is only achieved when you go out the day prior to the full moon. Since the sun sets so fast in Hawaii, we do not have a lot of time to have this type of exposure. If you happen to live up north, you will have a longer time of Dusk, allowing you to get these epic photos. 

If you are not able to get it all exposed correctly, you will have to expose for the moon’s light if you want the craters to show. Being a reflection of the sun, the moon is bright. This throws a few people off. They think that since it is dark, the exposure needs to be longer. That is not the case here. Grab your zoom lens and use manual mode. Set the ISO to 320, shutter speed to 1/400 of a second, and your aperture to the lowest number. Make sure the camera is 100% stable and nothing is effecting it, use a timer and take your shot. Stand upwind if there is a wind at all, blocking the camera.

Now review your photo. If it is too dark, shoot at 1/300 of a sec, if too bright, shoot at 1/500 of a sec. You will find the sweet spot and then you’re good to go. Take a few and make sure the camera is focused.

Tip: Using a timer or remote is key for the best sharpness with these photos.

Focusing at night

You can use live mode and zoom into the moon. Using the manual focus, adjust the lens to be as shape as possible. Try not to touch the focus ring after or you will have to do the process over again. You can also use cars or building lights in the distance as guidance. The most discouraging thing is to go home and review your photos only to find out they are out of focus. 

Tip: Increase the ISO to the highest number. This will help you see everything and focus better

See a full moon in Hawaii Aloha from Hawaii at Night

Now that we have gotten all the technical stuff out of the way, let’s give you what you came here for. All the secret locations in Hawaii to capture the full moon. The first one we will talk about is Stair Way to Heaven … yeah right. JK. 

Depending on the time of year, you can line up the moon with the Makapu’u Light House, or watch the moon rise in between the Mokalua islands in Kailua. In the summer months, you can stand on Waikiki beach and watch the moon come up over Diamond Head. A very popular hike to watch the full moon is the Koko Crater hike. Just know you will be walking down in the dark.

Maybe you are an early riser. The moon setting on the shores of Waikiki is breathtaking, and not many people get up early enough to see this. Another epic early morning photo can be taking on the North Shore of Oahu during the winter months. You can capture giant waves with the full moon sitting right behind.

Share these amazing photos

If you happen to capture something special, make sure you share your photo online. Let others see the amazing sight you witnessed. Something about the moon photo makes us all feel together, like my boy Fievel says, “underneath the pale moon sky”. Use hashtags like #moonrise #fullmoonphotos #harvestmoon and make sure you tag big accounts like @earth, @nasa, and of course @oahuphototours. You might get some good publicity for your work if that’s what you are going for.

Tips for full moon photos.

  1. Find the right date and time using online tools
  2. Find locations using Photopils or Google Earth
  3. Bring fully charged equipment
  4. Tripod is needed but can be improvised
  5. Zoom and wide-angle lens
  6. Share your photos



Get out there and capture the full moon where ever you are. It only happens so many times a year and every time you see it on your drive home, you wish you were out watching it from a cool location. Take these tips and have had it! If you have any questions about moon photography  CONTACT US


Another good link for info: Moon Tips

blood moon oahu photo tours